Fiction and Media: The Lord Of The Rings

As my readers know my favourite book has to be Lord of the Rings ever since I read it in about 1970 when I discovered Tolkien. Film remediation was true to my imaginings and traveling around Middle Earth and meeting familiar characters in LOTRO has been amazing. And of course I’m on the Online Games: Literature, New Media, and Narrative course… and about to tackle Thadur. So is a blogger friend on The Peasants Revolt…

Fiction and Media: The Lord Of The Rings.

Raising The Hood

Shaw Alligator Wrench

Shaw Alligator Wrench (Photo credit: Noel C. Hankamer)

If he had been given love when they raised him, the poor guy wouldn’t have turned to crime – even if I created him that way, a worthy antagonist.

Oh scrub that.

Or were they lifting a bonnet? Or was the bonnet in someone’s way?

A hat, you might ask, wondering why the fleeing hood hit the bonnet. Perhaps it was Easter. Who really knows? For that is the confusion that a British writer causes an American editor. Well I did just that and discovered that our common language can be so confusing.

It seems that we are ‘Two nations separated by a common language,’ as someone famous once said. Although at “QUOTE … UNQUOTE”  it appears that it might have been both Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, rather than Winston Churchill. “In The Canterville Ghost (1887), Wilde wrote: ‘We have really everything in common with America nowadays except, of course, language’.  However, the 1951 Treasury of Humorous Quotations (Esar & Bentley) quotes Shaw as saying: ‘England and America are two countries separated by the same language’, but without giving a source.  The quote had earlier been attributed to Shaw in Reader’s Digest (November 1942).”

English: Oscar Wilde, three-quarter length por...

Okay, I digress. Does it really matter who said it when there is some truth in the quote? No… but I get to show how clever I am by misquoting someone famous.

Back to the fleeing hood. An American reader, that my publisher provided to check Spiral of Hoovesfor readability, felt that the use of the word “bonnet” might be confusing as people wear bonnets. An American would say “hood” in the intended context. But a British reader would misunderstand “hood” as that for us would also be a piece of headwear. In this case it was easily resolved by making the context clear:

Their vehicle hit him full on, the impetus throwing his body over the roof, and onto the ground, where he squirmed clutching his stomach.

All mention of a “bonnet” or “hood” removed. But there were harder points of misunderstanding to resolve than this, although I think that a resolution was found eventually.

However, it’s hard ensuring that British characters ring true to both American and British readers alike without resorting to stereotypical language. I hope that my English heroine, Carly Tanner still sounds like many of the riders that I used to interview when I was a journalist. The next step will be ensuring that her distinctive way of talking remains consistent in the sequel Tortuous Terrain.

Of course both novels have their non-British characters and that has presented another challenge, especially when their first language is not English. I have refrained from over-using foreign words, notably my protagonist’s patois, but the odd foreign curse has been useful where the context calls for expletives.

Technical jargon has also been a problem in the sense that a non-horsey reader might have found some of the expressions confusing. But again I have been careful to retain some of the flavour of the world in which the novel is set, while making the jargon clearer from the context. The proof will be in the readers. I fear that I will face a greater problem with my mysteries set against the gaming world.

But back to the Americans and not just my publishers or many of my intended readers. The characters. In ‘Spiral of Hooves’ there is a Chicana, who has tested my resources in many ways as her dialogue spans two languages, as does that of the French-Canadians. I have relied on my American wife and my editors to ensure that these characters’ language is realistic and they say “truck”, “fender” and “dumpster” as well as “hood”.

But they manage to drive on the left, except when they are in France.

In ‘Tortuous Terrain’ the characters will have to drive on the right and the majority language will be American. Hopefully my British readers will make the journey with me across the Pond, and the hood will behave having been correctly raised.

'AL CAPONE' Cadillac Sixty Special

‘AL CAPONE’ Cadillac Sixty Special (Photo credit: skeggy)

Lord of the Lists

At the end of August, as part of the Indy Block Party, I posted my Top 5 Books – in fact Top 6 as the Infinite Improbability Drive was playing up as usual.  I had a feeling that another Blog was creeping up on me and here it is – Four more Top 5 or let’s stick with the Hitchhiking theme and go with Top 6 lists. Of course there is a common theme, if you notice.

A Matter of Life and Death (film)

Top 6 Movies: Should this be in order of favourite or chronological from when they were made or random? You tell me…

  1. A Matter of Life & Death or Stairway to Heaven in US (1946) – my favourite Powell & Pressburger movie.
  2. Lord of the Rings trilogy (2001-03) – the books reimagined and echoing the world I was transported to by the Professor back in 1970.
  3. Cinema Paradiso (1988) – a moving tribute and evocation of the magic of cinema in Italian.
  4. Shawshank Redemption (1994) – full of wonderful moments and brilliant acting from Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins.
  5. Pan’s Labyrinth (2206) – Guillermo de Toro’s Spanish language amazing and captivating fantasy set during the Spanish Civil War.
  6. Blade Runner (1982) – maybe not a sci-fi classic but there are classic scenes and lines, including the speech by Rutger Hauer’s character at the end.


Top 6 MMORPGS: As video gaming has now been around for 40 odd years, I am probably missing out the early classics that got me hooked. So these are the Top 6 from recent years – ones that I’ve got engrossed in and got characters to respectable levels. Currently I’m even taking a course linking two key areas in my life fiction and gaming – Online Games: Literature, New Media,and Narrative.

  1. Perfect World – this will always be No 1 as my elf archer asked a beautiful warrior if he could fly with her. And now we’re happily married in real life.
  2. LOTRO or Lord of the Rings Online – where I got to visit Middle Earth and meet Elrond. What more can I say but I keep going back.
  3. SWTOR or Star Wars: The Old Republic – set before the Star Wars movies but still a chance to wield a light-sabre and follow a narrative which you can change through your actions. Currently on the run….
  4. Age of Conan Unchained – based in Hyboria, the world created by Robert E Howard. Adult themes mean semi-naked characters, blood everywhere and challenging gameplay.
  5. Cabal – a fantasy world with unique armour and weapons. And great dance routines. Wished I had stayed longer.
  6. Runes of Magic – called by some a clone of the most popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft, but personally found it had better character creation and liked the dual class skill track using parallel areas. Great houses too.

Deutsch: Pjotr I. Tschaikowski

Top 6 Music: this will be far-ranging as music has been around since our distant ancestors expressed themselves on a piece of wood or by singing. Not going back that far but far enough.

  1. Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin – one of the first operas that I ever saw (at Glyndebourne) and which moved me and still continues too. Wonderful arias.
  2. Edward Elgar’s Cello Concerto in E Minor – very personal as well as moving music. One of the classic recordings being by Jacqueline du Pre, who tragically suffered and died from multiple sclerosis.
  3. Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring – ballet music that evokes so many images from the primitive to those from Disney’s Fantasia.
  4. The Doors’ L.A Woman album – included the track Riders On The Storm which is my favourite Doors’ song as well as the name of my guild in LOTRO.
  5. Queen’s A Night at the Opera – favourite track is of course the classic Bohemian Rhapsody But there are other great hits on this album such as You’re My Best Friend and Love of My Life.
  6. Howard Shore’s Lord Of The Rings Symphony – last but not least has to be this symphony edited down from the soundtrack to the Peter Jackson movies. Full of familiar themes and leitmotifs that continue to send tingles up my spine. Essential element of movies that works on its own too.

The artist and poet William Blake, who lived i...

Top 6 Poems: probably as old as music so the choice is extensive. I have to admit that my interest in poetry has lagged behind other art forms, but there are ones that stand out either individually or as collections.

  1. Thomas Babington Macaulay’s Horatius at the Bridge – a part of my education that still lives with me as it had such a fundamental effect.
  2. Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner – another classic poem that caught my imagination while growing up. The words are so powerful and often lines come to mind like:   Water, water, every where, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, every where,Nor any drop to drink.
  3. William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience – a collection of poems that I studied for English Literature and loved, especially as Blake even illustrated with richly illuminated plates.
  4. Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven – a poem with dark images and wonderful use of words. Another classic.
  5. Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Ozymandias – far briefer than most of the other poems but in its few short lines as evocative and epic, stirring thoughts as endless as the sands.
  6. Beowulfthe longest and for many one of the greatest epic poems, but with no specific source for this Old English masterpiece. Yet so much derives from this amazing work including much of our great literature. I read it in English, not Old English, when I was 17 and it was and still is an emotional experience of unbelievable depth.

The Old English epic poem Beowulf is written i...

There is a notable absence of Lord of the Rings from the last list. An oversight, perhaps? I could have cheated and included one of the many verses that J.R.R Tolkien included in his great work, many of which are fine works of poetry. In fact there is a crucial poem at 6 – Beowulf. The Professor wrote an essay “Beowulf and the Critics” – which I have incorrectly in the past inserted the word monster in with Grendel in mind. I read the essay before I had even heard of Lord of the Rings, but it was the turning point, the beginning of my journey down an unbelievable road… a road which goes ever on.


Inspirational Links that might lead to more lists being created:

Beyond the Conflict


Syria (Photo credit: Yishac – Isaac Alvarez i Brugada)

Syria has become the hot topic of the moment with President Assad as the west’s new figure of hate. The Obama Administration wants a limited military response to the chemical weapons attack on Syrian civilians, allegedly by the Syrian Military. And as AP reported, ‘Syrian President Bashar Assad has warned there will be “repercussions” against any U. S. military strike launched in response to a chemical weapons attack in his country.

Does the threat of military escalation resolve anything for the Syrian People? They would be the first to suffer, as a Syrian-born woman told Senator McCain in Phoenix, Arizona:

And the so-called collateral damage won’t stop there. The humanitarian repercussions will be unacceptable. Haven’t our politicians learnt anything from recent conflicts in the Middle East? Or is the US administration under the naïve belief that by siding with rebels supported by Al-Qaeda prevents terrorist responses? Oh, I’m the naïve one forgetting that it is acceptable to back both sides. The west was selling arms to both Iran and Iraq back before Saddam Hussein was the bogey man. And what about super-power dealings with the Taliban? Okay to arm the Taliban when they are fighting Russia. Terrorists can be valuable allies, when they oppose an evil empire.

President Carter said, “The chemical attack should be a catalyst for redoubling efforts to convene a peace conference, to end hostilities, and urgently to find a political solution.” But that is too much like common sense. Fortunately the Russians are also using their heads and attempting to move towards a peaceful outcome.

I don’t claim to be a Middle East expert but I have lived for enough decades to recognize that the situation is complex with multiple political and religious sides, and small sparks have a tendency to grow if fanned by outside forces that have their own agendas. Whether this will escalate into World War III is a frightening question, which I pray the politicians are seriously asking before they count the benefits… to themselves.


Fellow writer Roger Colby’s apocalyptic ‘This Broken Earth’ should serve as a warning since it starts from a crisis in Syria. . On his insightful blog, Roger Colby says, “I am not writing this blog to make you go out and buy the book, but simply because I’m pretty freaked out about the fact that a prediction I made in my novel is slowly becoming a frightening reality.

Sadly his excellent novel is a warning that will be dismissed as science fiction and not reality. But what about history, do we ignore that at our peril? As G. W. F. Hegel said, “What experience and history teach is this – that people and governments never have learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it.” This has been said in other ways by greater minds than mine:

History should demonstrate that the solution lies deeper than opposing dictators when they are already at war with their people. The violence starts when dictators are first allowed to emerge. WWII began many years after Hitler was given the financial backing and the arms. Before the Jews there were others suffering and yet he was funded and ignored. Why were Wall Street financiers supporting Krupps, the largest German arms manufacturer?

The dictators of tomorrow are being created today in our name. Reacting now with violence only escalates Syria’s civil war and the same applies further afield. Sadly the solutions to today’s conflicts lie yesterday… when our nations were selling chemicals and arms to Syria, and probably to the opposition. Where were Obama, Kerry, Cameron, Hague and all their cronies when the export deals were being approved? Counting their shares in the manufacturers? Looking for votes? Where are they sending the next batch of death to as part of the despicable arms trade? The next hotspot that gets them spouting from their power pulpit when it makes the headlines.

Maybe as The Onion wisely reported, “a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.”

Sending politicians to fight the wars they want sounds inspired. Instead of being cannon fodder the troops could run Congress or the House of Commons. Beyond the amusement of suits fighting, history shows that there was once a time when the best leaders were willing to be there in the front line, leading from the front. Forget America’s armchair Presidents and remember George Washington, even if he fought us Brits and won.

Yet another British rival, Emperor Napoleon led his armies to victory and then defeat. And we have our own warrior leader, Boudicca. So why do politicians send others to fight? Are the troops our modern day champions fighting it out for the spoils? But wasn’t the combat meant to be single combat?

Obama .v. Assad. Bare-knuckles, swords, or pistols at dawn? Or words of wisdom and a pen?


There are non-violent ways and there are many who have proved that path can work. I can count one of the campaigners for the Abolition of Slavery as both my ancestor and an example of what is possible. My 4th Great-grandfather, Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton was a tireless advocate of choosing the right way. It’s not the easy route, especially when there are alternative options, even ways-out.

I will end by quoting Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton’s Quaker brother-in-law and friend, Joseph Gurney who wrote to him when he became an MP saying, “Do not let thy independence of all party be the means of leading thee away from sound Whiggism. Let us take special care to avoid the spirit of Toryism. I mean that spirit which bears the worst things with endless apathy, because they are old.”

This apathy still leads the Tory descendants and their allies in the US to distract from the real issues with their march to war. We have to